The Fairport Red Raiders emerged on top of Victor 3-1 after a battle of top five teams at Rochester Ice Center on Saturday.
The Red Raiders (6-1-3), ranked No. 1 in the Democrat and Chronicle‘s latest coaches’ poll, did most of their damage early as they converted two power plays in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
With just under 13 minutes left in the period defender Hunter McDonald got Fairport on the scoreboard first with his fourth goal of the season.
Roughly two minutes later with a scrum forming in front of the Victor (7-3) net, Red Raiders’ forward Sam Hoyen chipped in a short shot to move Fairport ahead by two goals.
“That’s one of the things that we harped on all week long. We wanted to get off to a good start, that’s kind of been an issue for us the past few games,” Red Raiders coach Chris Moretter said.
“We felt it was really important to jump out on them. Special teams, power play wise, our power play seemed to be really clicking early. We were fortunate to get two goals quick, but we knew Victor would be able to come back on us and they did.”
Victor, the defending Division I state champion and the No. 3 team in the coaches’ poll, did indeed come back as senior forward Roman Czornobil scored near the 12-minute mark to bring the score to 2-1 in the second.
However, the story of the second period was the opportunities Victor squandered. With a 5-on-3 power play opportunity late in the period the Blue Devils were unable to take advantage as Fairport goalie Tyler McMillan stonewalled their offensive attack.
“Tyler played a great game. He was stellar back there, it’s a great thing to have confidence in your goaltender. We’re able to take chances that maybe we wouldn’t be typically able to take,” Moretter said.
“We know that he’ll be there to make the save. There were times in that second period with Victor being down, their power play is very good, and he was able to make some amazing saves with all parts of his body. I’m super proud of him.”
In the final period, the Blue Devils ratcheted up the pace and continued to trying to tie the score. McDonald, McMillan and defender Nick Krug came up huge with stellar defensive plays whenever Victor was threatening.
On two separate occasions McDonald hit the ice and used his body to turn away a potential shot. With just 4:38 remaining, the Red Raiders had another power play opportunity, but even though they didn’t score they kept Victor on its heels for the entire two minutes.
Junior forward Travis Knicley sealed the game with 24 seconds left after intercepting a pass and scoring on an empty net.
The victory over the defending state champs serves as a marquee win for Fairport, which tied other Section V contenders Penfield and Pittsford in December.
“Victor is a hell of a team, for us to come off the long break the way we did and weather the storm in the second period it says a lot about the mentality of our team. The third period came and we were able to get back to playing Fairport hockey,” Moretter said.
“We were able to get that win, but there’s a lot of parody in this league and any team can win it on any given night. We’re fortunate, but we have to get ready and get ready for Greece on Tuesday.”
The Red Raiders will face Greece at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Rochester Ice Center. Victor will look to get back on track at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Scottsville Ice Arena.